Social Reporting

Posted on Sunday, 19 October, 2008 by


Social Reporting
as a contribution to facilitating and documenting events

What is Social Reporting
Social Reporting is about the active engagement of participants in capturing and documenting of events or projects. Photo, video, blogposts, microblogs, backchannel streams, etc, through tags, can be aggregated, thus co-creating a mosaical & multi perspective “social report”. As much of this is accessible almost instantly after capturing it, SR means a contribution to both facilitation and documenting, as well as extending the experiences to those not present. SR adds to the “official” documentation a rich mix of stories and conversations.

The term “social reporter” was launched recently by David Wilcox and Bev Trayner.  A few of the phrases they use to define social reporter:

“…someone (..) to find external resources, spot stories of interest to participants, look for common interests in profiles and make introductions, post items an help others to so, shoot video … and so on. I think it’s a mix of facilitation and journalism.”

“(someone) to develop conversations for collaboration.”

“focussed on challenging disempowering cultures, rather than re-inforcing them.”

“My starting point is  the stories, or snippets of stories, that some people on the inside of the community want to catch about themselves – and then looking for ways to support and extend the ways they represent and talk about those stories. (….) it’s the little incremental steps and modeling that changes a community’s practice.”

While both Bev and David use social media to capture social stuff (conversations, stories), it is my interpretation that their emphasis is slightly different: David acts as the reporter, while Bev likes capturing to be done socially. David sees a new role for journalists, during events, Bev integrates it as a community practice into design of events.

In Nancy White‘s excellent online facilitation wiki and in there is lots of stuff about the use of social media during conferences for capturing. I was wondering what is different about social reporting.

In the social reporter view, it is an assigned role a person or a team takes. (E.g. when the conference participants are not expected to use social media.) In the reporting socially view, I think it is very similar to the “capturing during conferences”. But the name social reporting reflects that is about more than just “capturing the conference”. It is a community practice, it is an act of learning and sharing. It is something to carefully design for. I copy a large chunk from a blogpost by Bev, as it holds a description of social reporting that makes sense to me:

Live blogging, sharing event photos in flickr, graphic facilitaton, streaming and videos in YouTube or bliptv, taking joint skype text notes in a skype conference call, are all part of social reporting. It’s often done in a team (one or more people) and they organise a tagging system for the event. Public/private technical and ethical issues surface as you do social reporting – you have to consider carefully what permissions you need (technically) and should get (ethically) for publishing images and words of other people.

The purpose for doing social reporting includes:

* Keeping a shared memory of “what happened” through more than one people doing it, often in quite random ways, and brought together by tags;
* Using different types of media for reporting, each media type being accessible to different types of people with different purposes for “reading” the (social) report;
* Extending the conversation beyond any one mode (such as face-to-face mode, telephone conference mode, lecture mode) making sure you include people who were not “there”.
* Putting reporting in the hands of more and different types of people with access to different tools, technologies and approaches.
* Modeling different ways of helping people to make sense of an occassion.
* Shining a spotlight on periphery voices by looking out for and recording what they say.
* Advocacy – raising awareness, highlighting good practice, having an impact in ways that incorporate a wider type of audience than just those who will plough their way through traditional written text.

Some of the characteristics of social reporting are that it’s informal, visual, and it doesn’t present itself as an accurate representation of the truth – but, rather, as perspectives from different places and angles. A social reporter needs to know how to use different tools and also where to store things like texts, video and audio files and the different levels of privacy for each one. The simpler and more elegant the final report the more work went into labelling, writing captions and descriptions, uploading, tagging, categorising, cross-referencing etc.
(Bev Trayner)

Posted in: social reporting